LIVE: Suicidal Tendencies / Agnostic Front / Municipal Waste and more @ The Persistence Tour, London

By Glen Bushell

There’s very little difference between attending The Persistence Tour and a hardcore all-dayer at your local village hall or club. Apart from the venue being the Kentish Town Forum, and the line-up featuring a bill of hardcore royalty, the premise is much the same; a place for hardcore kids of all generations to unite under one. What makes it even more special is that The Persistence Tour is traditionally reserved for mainland Europe. Judging by the sold-out crowd, London has been waiting a long time for this.

While people are still filtering in to the venue, and many choosing to hole up in the local bars out of the rain, Californian heavyweights, Mizery, find themselves playing to a sparse crowd. Those who do make it down in time are treated to one of most exciting bands in modern hardcore. They tear through the metallic groove of latest album, ‘Absolute Light’, kicking off the evening in style and turning more than a few heads in the process.

The baton is then handed to reformed NYHC legends, Burn, who while still unknown quantity to some to more than a few of the audience, put on a stunning performance. Vocalist Chaka Malik handles a venue this size with ease, and at no point does it lose the intimacy of smaller club shows that Burn are accustomed to.‘Cleanse’ and ‘We Don’t Stand a Chance’ were played in a far more progressive style of hardcore years ago, and sound leagues above their contemporaries today. Closing with the furious anthem, ‘Shall Be Judged’, and Malik announcing they have a new full-length on the way this year, Burn are still a very relevant force to be reckoned with.

In the blink of an eye, and before we have even had a chance to catch our breath, Down To Nothing hit the stage with infectious energy. The Virginia hardcore band are no strangers to our shores, and vocalist David Wood does his best to make the room feel involved. A large portion of their set comes from their 2013 album, ‘Life On The James’, as Wood explains they “hardly ever get to play these songs and most of you don’t know us anyway.” The chorus of voices singing along to the title track, ‘Dirty South’ and ‘Sheffield’ say otherwise. While it is exhausting enough watching Down To Nothing from the sidelines, the room ignites once more with the anthemic ‘I Can’t Believe My Eyes’, leaving crowd begging for more.

However, when ‘more’ arrives, they aren’t ready for the sheer force of veteran metallic hardcore band, Walls Of Jericho. They have a thunderous sound, as Candace Kucsulain prowls the stage. The band plays a career spanning set, even venturing back to their debut album, ‘The Bound Feed The Gagged’ for a visceral run through ‘Playing Soldier Again’. The latter material aired from their latest album ‘No One Can Save You From Yourself’ shows how much this band have progressed without compromise. Kucuslain’s vocals are ferocious beneath the jagged wall of guitars of ‘Reign Supreme’, before they end with the crushing ‘Revival Never Goes Out of Style’.

Before they have even emerged, it simply  takes the arrival of a banner for the audience to start a football stadium style chant of “Municipal Waste Is Gonna Fuck You Up.” It is no coincidence, then, that the mighty Waste do exactly that, ripping through their back catalogue at an alarming rate. Given that they are the ultimate party band, ‘Mind Eraser’, ‘You’re Cut Off’ and ‘The Thrashin’ Of The Christ’ put smiles on the faces of everyone in the room.

While their music is mainly an uplifting experience, Tony Foresta admits his concerns about what America they are returning to, given they have been out of the country during the inauguration of Donald Trump. Naturally, this is followed by ‘I Want To Kill The President’. It is back to fun again in no time, as ‘Unleash The Bastards’ transforms the dance floor into a whirlwind circle pit, and ‘Born To Party’ brings their set to a close in true Municipal Waste style.

By the time Agnostic Front arrive, the venue is at breaking point. Somehow after five bands, the crowd still finds the energy to tear each other to pieces for the hardcore icons. Being in the business for over thirty years, the veterans are on fine form. Roger Miret spits every syllable to ‘My life My Way’ with the same intensity as always, and leads a mass singalong during the anthemic ‘For My Family’.

Agnostic Front cover all corners of their back catalogue during their set, which seems to fly by in no time. They are joined by an audience member for ‘Police State’, power through a cover of ‘Crucified’ by Iron Cross, and pay tribute to the sadly departed vocalist of The Business, Mickey Fitz. Of course, the biggest chorus of voices is heard during the quintessential Agnostic Front anthem, ‘Gotta Go’, led by the incomparable guitarist, Vinnie Stigma. Theyround out their set with a cover of Ramones classic, ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, giving even tonight’s headliners a run for their money.

On any other night, Agnostic Front would have closed the show, but that distinction is given to the skate-punk crossover icons, Suicidal Tendencies. The rapturous applause that greets vocalist Mike Muir as he enters the stage is almost deafening as they launch into ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down’. Muir barely has to sing a word as everyone joins him through ‘War Inside My Head’ and Subliminal’.

For many, one of the highlights of Suicidal Tendencies tonight is seeing the legendary Dave Lombardo behind the kit for their set. He adds extra flair to the band’s sound, and his drumming is on point. It gives ‘Possessed to Skate’ and ‘Institulationized’ a harder edge, before the band invite everyone on stage with them to run through ‘Cyco Vision’. It brings a perfect evening to a close, and one that has been a true celebration of the hardcore in all its forms.